Netanyahu Ad Funded by Hawkish Advocacy Group

Politico has the scoop on an expensive advertisement funded by a mideast-focused hawkish advocacy group featuring an aggressive speech that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made on Sept. 11. The ad is scheduled to air in several cities in Florida tomorrow, where the Jewish vote could determine who wins the key state if it’s a close presidential election. Chilling music plays in the background as the Israeli leader proclaims: “The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs. The world tells Israel wait, there’s still time. And I say wait, for what? Wait until when?”

The $1 million slot was paid for by Secure America Now (SAN), which conceals the identity of its donors with its 501(c)4 status. SAN claims it operates in a “non-partisan” manner but doesn’t publish a list of its board or members. Nevertheless, one high-profile member is Frank Gaffney’s sister and fellow neoconservative activist, Devon Cross, who said in a SAN press release (now removed) about a 2011 poll showing American views of Iran as a top national security threat that:

Though both the Bush and Obama administrations have been reticent to consider military options to address the threat posed by Iranian nukes, the American people are prepared to support such action should sanctions fail. Americans across the political spectrum are focused on security, even though these issues get far less attention from politicians than these polling numbers indicate they should.

SAN has been accused of using flawed techniques for its polling. The Washington Post’s Adam Serwer described one such poll showing that Obama had lost Jewish support for the Democrat party because of his dealings with Israel “laughably bogus”. He wrote:

Not only does their sample skew conservative, (only 64 percent of respondents voted for Obama, as opposed to the 77 percent of Jewish votes he actually got) but many questions in the poll are phrased in as leading a manner as possible. Indeed, given the wording of the questions, it’s actually surprising that 63 percent of respondents overall approved of Obama.

SAN’s media productions also repeat neoconservative talking points about the Obama administration’s mideast foreign policy, including a 2012 SAN ad claiming that in his first interview as president, “Obama chose Arab TV for an apology.” The ad goes on to show Obama saying that it is “important for us to be willing to talk to Iran,” with a voiceover in the ad claiming that “Iran answered with terror, attacks on our troops and nuclear weapons development. … Tell President Obama: no apologies, no weakness. It’s time to stop Iran.”

In its assessment of this ad concluded:

Obama’s first television interview after taking office was with the Al Arabiya network at the White House. But the ad gets nothing right beyond that. By saying ‘all too often the United States starts by dictating,’ Obama was not apologizing but being diplomatic about past strategies that failed to yield results. What’s more, the ad criticizes Obama’s approach to Iran, but his quote actually referred to the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Another ad features a suburban mother complaining that Obama has made the US less secure in many ways, including by ceasing the use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, “all but abandoning Israel,” “apologizing for America,” failing to stop Iran from allegedly trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and “making clear the era of American exceptionalism is over.”

As Politico’s Maggie Haberman notes, “Bibi Netanyahu is not running a campaign in the US – it just looks that way in this new ad.”

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.


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